Warnings that Gloucestershire's rivers are being contaminated due to blocked drains

Roger Davies, a local resident, points out a blocked up drainage ditch, which is causing rainwater to run into a brook along the road.

Environmental campaigners in Gloucestershire are warning that blocked drains are damaging the county's rivers.

Local people in the Cotswolds village of Sherbourne say that contaminated rainwater is running off fields and roads and instead of ending up in drains, is pouring into streams and rivers.

One resident, Roger Davies, has identified a brook that runs alongside his property, which he says is being polluted.

Roger believes it is due to a blocked up ditch.

"This is a channel that runs under the road and to a pool that has been built deliberately there to absorb the water. But because it's been blocked, it carries on down the road into the brook and then fills up the Sherbourne Lakes," he said.

"We need to slow the water from getting on the road, we need to feed it off the road, into ditched and into soakaways - and that allows the silt to drop out and then it's cleaner water going into the brook and less silt," Roger added.

Campaigners are calling for more drains to be unblocked - but the council says it already clears around 100,000 drains every year.

Environmental campaigners say that rivers are already under strain due to sewage being released into them, meaning the addition polluted rainwater puts them under extra strain.

Debbie Campbell from the Cotswold Rivers Trust, said: "What we have is a constant battle,  rivers are always always fighting. So, we’ve got sewage pollution that comes from the water companies,  and also we’ve got water that just literally comes gushing down at such a rate and it’s just basically picking up microplastics.

"It picks up oil and all those things and silt that all comes gushing into the rivers. Literally, rivers have no chance."

A former Environment Agency worker and local resident, Dave Throup, also agrees that agricultural runoff is proving a huge challenge for Gloucestershire's rivers.

Roger Davies says he's doing his part to keep the drains across Gloucestershire clear of debris.

"Unfortunately, agricultural pollution is a really big problem", he said.

"There’s a huge focus, quite rightly, on sewage pollution, but in fact there’s more water bodies affected by agricultural pollution than are by sewage.

"The problem is when the rainwater runs off, it takes soil with it - it takes nutrients with it, it takes pesticides with it, and all that is getting into the various rivers and water bodies."

Responding to the criticisms about agricultural runoff, a spokesperson for the National Farmers' Union said: "Farmers and growers care about water quality in rivers and we continue to work hard, through a range of measures, to prevent valuable nutrients and soil that are crucial to our farming systems and producing food, from contributing to water pollution."

Gloucestershire County Council added that it clears 100,000 drains every year and encourages residents to report any that are blocked.